Marlies edge IceCaps
Take first of two-game series 4-3 in overtime
By Chris Doyle
St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador – Jeff Finger’s goal with less than 30 seconds to go in overtime gave the Toronto Marlies a 4-3 victory over the St. John’s IceCaps Friday night at Mile One Centre. After the teams traded scoring chances in the extra frame, Finger knocked home a rebound with 28.7 seconds on the clock to give Toronto its fifth road win of the season and fifth straight win overall.
Despite the loss, the two clubs provided solid entertainment for the capacity crowd in attendance, with perhaps the best game played on home ice all season. Head coach Keith McCambridge said following the contest that both teams traded chances during the game at a high level and a fast speed.
“They get one (goal) at the end to get their two points,” McCambridge said. “Not much you can complain about out of that game.”
Marlies goaltender Mark Owuya was particularly sharp, stopping 29-of-32 shots for the visitors and earning his fourth win in six starts since being recalled from the Reading Royals of the ECHL. Forward Nazem Kadri was a terror on the ice all night long, factoring in on all four Marlies goals, and contributing five shots on goal.
“(Kadri is) really craft out there and sees the ice really well, especially on the power play,” said IceCaps defenceman Travis Ramsey, who tied the game 3-3 in the third period. “He makes things happen, and that was evident on the power play and in the overtime.”
St. John’s got off to a strong start in the first, scoring less than five minutes into the game on a wicked wrist shot by Jason King for his eighth goal of the season. King took a feed from Zach Redmond, stepped in over the blueline and fired a shot past Owuya on the blocker side. The Marlies would tie the game five minutes later on the power play on a pretty setup by Mike Zigomanis, who feathered a cross-ice pass to a wide open Josh Engel. Engel made no mistake in burying his second goal in as many games to knot the score at one.
The IceCaps responded on a power play of their own just two minutes later, when defenceman Jason DeSantis wired his fourth goal of the season past a screened Owuya to give St. John’s a 2-1 lead.
The score would stay that way until the 9:11 mark of the second period when Kadri snapped a shot past IceCaps goaltender Peter Mannino from the slot. Kadri added his second of the night and third of the season at the 18:06 mark on another Marlies power play, banging home a loose puck after Mannino made the initial save on the Marcel Mueller shot.
The third period saw the teams pick up the intensity and both sides had a number of opportunities to find the back of the net. Eventually, with 9:39 left in regulation, Travis Ramsey got the capacity crowd excited when he beat Owuya high after a loose puck found his stick at the side of the crease, to tie the game at three. Neither team would score again until Finger’s overtime marker that sealed the victory for Toronto.
“We haven’t gone to a shootout yet, and going into overtime you could tell we wanted to pull out the win really bad,” Ramsey stated.
For Coach McCambridge, while the loss was disappointing, it doesn’t change his focus for Saturday night’s contest.
“We’ll make some fine adjustments but I thought that was a real well-played game by both teams,” he said.
Friday night’s affair marked the first meeting between the former and current St. John’s franchises. The Marlies were based in St. John’s from 1991-2005 as the farm team of the Toronto Maple Leafs but moved closer to its parent club after the 2004-05 season. Including tonight’s game, the two teams will meet seven times over the IceCaps next 18 games, including Saturday night at Mile One Centre.
Friday’s capacity crowd was the 11th consecutive sellout for the IceCaps, who rank fifth in the AHL in total attendance.
Tomorrow night’s game and all the action can be heard on 930 AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador with play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers. Pregame show begins at 7:00 p.m. with the drop of the puck scheduled for 7:30.